Energy and Environment

Short On Water, Farmer Tries Desert Ducks

Sep 16, 2015
Julia Ritchey

For the first time in state history, Nevada water officials are preparing to restrict groundwater pumping for the Smith and Mason valleys. Farmers and ranchers there are already operating on thin margins because of the drought. Our reporter Julia Ritchey visited the agricultural community of Yerington to see how one farmer is coping.

"We'll start here; it's as a good as anywhere. You'll be able to see, like mine,  I have fields that have nothing growing just basically weeds because of no water... It’s basically fallowed because you can’t irrigate it."

2015 Sierra Snow Pack Was Lowest In 500 Years

Sep 16, 2015
NOAA/MODIS

We all know snowfall in the Sierras has been light in recent years, but new research reveals that 2015 marked a 500-year-low for snowpack in the region.

Water Conservation Dips In August

Sep 8, 2015
Julia Ritchey

  Water conservation dipped last month, according to new numbers from the Truckee Meadows Water Authority. As Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports, the reduction fell just shy of their goal.

Residents reduced their water usage by nine percent last month. That's a little short of the utility's voluntary reduction target of 10 percent — and the first month since May that customers didn't exceed TMWA’s goal.

Bill Hauck is a senior hydrologist at the authority. He says even after the hot, dry months are over, users should continue to cut back.

Amy Westervelt

The U.S. Forest Service is sounding the alarm about the skyrocketing cost of wildfires. The agency now spends more than half its budget dealing with fires, compared to 16 percent in 1995. This week KUNR’s news team is looking at new ways to cope with wildfires in our series, Putting Out The Fire. In the second story we look at a controversial new strategy that could help forests adapt to warming climates. 

 

J. Michael Johnson, National Park Service

Wildfires in the West are getting larger and more intense every year. Right now, 66 large fires are burning in 11 western states, consuming more than a million and a half acres. California and Nevada rank in the top 10 most wildfire-prone states in the country. This week our series Putting Out the Fire examines innovative approaches to fighting and preventing fire. In our first story, we look at some new thinking around fire, and ideas for protecting your home. 

Landmark Truckee River Deal Closer To Reality

Aug 26, 2015

  A major water agreement between California and Nevada is one step closer to reality more than three decades after it was first proposed. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey spoke with John Erwin of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority to explain the significance of the deal and how it will help in future droughts.

The Truckee River Operating Agreement will allow Nevada to better manage its waters, Erwin says.

More Federal Funding Urged At Lake Tahoe Summit

Aug 24, 2015
Julia Ritchey

Officials at the 19th annual Lake Tahoe Summit on Monday said more federal funding is needed to preserve and restore the popular Alpine lake. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey was there and brings us this report.

It's been nearly two decades since President Bill Clinton first held a summit at Lake Tahoe and directed federal agencies to coordinate to protect the lake. 

Pipeline To Save Groundwater In Mt. Rose Suburbs

Aug 17, 2015
TMWA

Residents of the Mt. Rose and Galena suburbs rely mostly on domestic wells for their water. But continued development and the drought have strapped those underground aquifers. Now, the Truckee Meadows Water Authority has a new strategy to supply these households. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey spoke with TMWA's John Enloe for more details.*

Enviro Groups Conserve Former Sierra Logging Tract

Aug 13, 2015
American River Conservancy

More than 10,000 acres of Sierra Nevada forest will become a living laboratory for scientists to study forest restoration and wildfire-reduction techniques. That’s thanks to a deal finalized last week by The Nature Conservancy, American River Conservancy and Northern Sierra Partnership to acquire the land, which connects the North Fork American River with the Granite Chief Wilderness.

In addition to restoring habitat in the forest for the endangered spotted owl, scientists plan to study the impacts of forest thinning on wildfires, water quality and drought.

Unabated Quakes Shake Northwest Nevada

Aug 11, 2015
University of Nevada, Reno

Seismologists say a year-long swarm of earthquakes in northwest Nevada has shown no signs of slowing down, and the potential is increasing for an even larger one. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports. 

The Nevada Seismological Lab have detected more than 5,600 earthquakes since last summer in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge near the Oregon line. 

Ken Smith is a seismologist at the lab. He says it’s a rural area, but some ranchers and residents have felt them. 

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